Leo Tolstoy once wrote: “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Unfortunately, not all weddings end in a fairy tale. When the marriage becomes too unbearable, divorce is the only solution. And no matter how simple the process, divorce is never pleasant. That’s why in this article, we will talk about ways to dissolve a marriage quickly and how to do it online.
Basics for Divorce in Pennsylvania
First of all, it should be noted that it is impossible to complete a divorce online. Divorce is a legal process that takes place within the walls of the court. However, some of the stages of marriage dissolution can be done using certain web services to speed up the process.
Any divorce begins with filing a claim in court. The spouse who sues is called the “petitioner,” and the other spouse is the “respondent.” But first, the spouses should take certain actions. To be eligible for dissolving a marriage in Pennsylvania, both spouses must have lived in the state for at least 6 consecutive months before filing for divorce.
There are 2 types of divorce in Pennsylvania: by mutual consent and unconsented. Divorce by mutual consent is also known in other states as an uncontested divorce. Its essence lies in the fact that spouses want to dissolve the marriage and independently decide such issues as the property division, child custody, and the amount and duration of spousal support (alimony). To do this, they prepare and sign a settlement agreement, which they submit to the court for consideration. If the judge finds it fair, they will grant a divorce. The only grounds permissible for the mutual consent termination are “irreconcilable differences” that prevent spouses from saving their marriage.
In a contested divorce, the spouses have some disagreements that they cannot resolve on their own. All controversial issues will be considered in court, and divorce will only be granted after the judge resolves all disputes. Practise shows that spouses are not always satisfied with the judge’s decision. Therefore, cooperation is the most desirable option for those who want to protect their financial interests.
Both spouses must hire lawyers to defend their interests in an unconsented case. This significantly impacts the cost of divorce at the expense of attorneys’ fees. In addition, because all controversial issues are considered in court, the proceedings usually last longer than in a divorce by mutual consent.
Grounds for an unconsented divorce are the following:
- desertion of one of the spouses for a year or more;
- imprisonment for two years or more for conviction of any crime;
- humiliation (any ongoing behavior that makes the complainant’s life unbearable);
- one of the spouses is in a psychiatric hospital for at least 18 months before the start of the divorce and will remain in that institution for at least 18 months after the divorce starts. To obtain a divorce on this basis, the court must hear from an independent expert on the mental state of the spouse being treated.
Where to Get Divorce Papers
To apply for a divorce, spouses need to fill out forms. The main set of documents for a mutual consent divorce includes:
- Self Represented Party Entry of Appearance
- Notice to Defend and Divorce Complaint
- Praecipe to Reinstate the Complaint Instructions
- Affidavit of Consent
- 3301(c)(1) Counter-Affidavit
- Waiver of Notice
- Notice of intention to file the praecipe to transmit record
- Affidavit of Non-Military Service
- Certificate of Service
- Final Praecipe to Transmit Record
- Divorce Decree
- Notice of Intention to Resume Prior Surname
The required forms may vary depending on the characteristics of the couple and the county where the case is being considered.
Forms for the divorce process by mutual consent can be obtained from the court clerk or downloaded from The Unified JUDICIAL SYSTEM of PENNSYLVANIA website.
How to File for Divorce in Pennsylvania
Once you have completed the forms, you need to make 2 copies of each document and submit them to your county clerk. The originals will be given to the judge, while one copy remains with you, and the other copy must be given to your spouse.
Now, you do not need to go to court to open a case. The modern e-filing system allows you to create an application for divorce online. In Pennsylvania, the PACFile state system is used by both lawyers and individuals who represent themselves in court proceedings. To file for divorce online, you need to submit completed PDF forms with PACFile and pay a filing fee.
As soon as the system accepts your claim, you will receive a corresponding notification. After that, you need to serve your spouse. You can also do this online using the PACFile, provided that your spouse (or their lawyer) has an account in the system.
If your spouse didn’t hire an attorney and does not have an account in PACFile, you must serve them in the traditional way. Send copies of the documents by certified mail, with the sheriff’s help, or through a process server. You have 30 days to serve your spouse.
Benefits of an Online Divorce
Online divorce is a quick and inexpensive way to prepare divorce forms. It is only permissible in cases of dissolution by mutual consent. If you and your spouse are working together to resolve your disputes and want to save on lawyer fees, online divorce is a great assistant.
You can fill out all the required forms yourself, which is also known as a DIY divorce. Online divorce is a non-governmental web resource that fills out the necessary documents for the court, based on the information provided by the spouses. It’s completely legal. If you want to get high-quality forms quickly for a low cost, online divorce is exactly what you need.
The system works as follows: the spouses go to the website of the online divorce company and answer questions about their marriage and the nuances of dissolution. Based on the provided information, the system selects the necessary forms and fills them out in accordance with the court’s requirements.
Spouses do not need a legal background to prepare top-notch paperwork. They can do it even without an attorney, thanks to the so-called divorce over the Internet. Many companies also send detailed instructions that allow spouses to submit documents to the court quickly.